On the football field at least.
Yes only three Independent programs left. Compared to the early 80s when it looked like every third team was an independent and they would NEVER think of joining a conference because fuck that noise. Now? Everyone and their sister wants to get into a conference like yesterday. Let’s take a look at this phenomenon shall we?
- Notre Dame has a “scheduling arrangement” (this is a good time to use air quotes as well) with the ACC. Every other sport the Irish play is ACC. This is just a wait-and-see game. Once the Irish/NBC deal ends (end of the 2025 season) expect some interesting negotiations (unless a bigger megadeal has formed with ESPN partnering up with two or more conferences).
- BYU doesn’t have a scheduling arrangement per se but loves to face off against Mountain West teams and why not? Closest schools to them. But they’re better than that conference. Isn’t that why they left in the first place? They are bordering on desperate to get into a conference now and seriously think the Big XII or even Pac-12 would take them in a heartbeat. They don’t want to go back to the MWC and I don’t know if the MWC would want them unless there were conditions attached. Maybe the American takes them in but that still drops BYU down a tier. Then again, they are in a Neverland right now that no one else is in and stuck until the next realignment ball drops.
- Navy was an independent for over 100 years. Never in a conference. Then they decide to up and join the American conference. I have said this many times before but I hope that they roll through their schedule, win the American conference championship game handily, then struggle or outright lose to Army. The Committee says they are ready for this rare possibility but it would be fun to see at least a bit of chaos, no?
- FCS teams are no longer coming in as independents like they once did. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State went straight to the Sun Belt as did many other call-ups. And now we have Charlotte this year going straight to Conference USA. So we can probably forget any FCS programs moving up to become an independent for a few years and wait for a conference to call them. That ship has sailed.
So it looks like in about ten years we will have one independent: Army. And even then who knows. I can see them trying the MAC (since C-USA worked so well for them years back).
Alright enough of that, on to the (small set of) predictions!
Well gee that was easy.
- Notre Dame is an instant contender this season…as long as they don’t fuck up. I guess you could say that for most other teams obviously but for the Irish it’s more a tendency to allow much lesser teams to stay in games for way too long (a la Pitt back in the Irish’s 2012 run to the BCS Championship game). As always, not the easiest schedule for the Golden Domers but they have a lot of the tougher games at home (Texas, Georgia Tech, Navy, USC). The only truly difficult game I think they would lose would be at Clemson and even then they may have a good shot at this one. One thing is for sure…if Touchdown Jesus is undefeated by the time November rolls around they will be #1 no doubt.
- BYU, for the first time in quite a while, will struggle this year. Yes, even with Taysom Hill back under centre. They have a brutal schedule with a lot of very difficult away games including going to Nebraska, UCLA, Michigan, Missouri, and Utah State. How they handle their games against Mountain West and American conference teams will shape how their year turns out.
- Then we have come to our friends at West Point. The, um, whatever they are called (are they still called the Black Knights?) will go another year without a bowl game. To be honest, the only two games I am giving them are the two FCS games and even then, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lose either or both. I don’t know what it is that Army isn’t doing that Navy and Air Force are but the gap between the former and the latter two seems to be widening.
Fun. Fast. And now, over. Soon enough, my Independent predictions will be a Twitter post (btw, cheap plug…check me out on college football gamedays at @LikeABauce1978 if you like to do the Twitter thing). Next up it will be time for some MACtion baby!